The LB corps is also going through a dual transition with D.J. Durkin taking over as the LB coach and Teryl Austin the new defensive coordinator after Charlie Strong handled those duties for all of their careers to this point.
With those four veterans out of the mix, Florida will rely on four primary players at the three positions. Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones are the seniors at LB and they are joined by Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins as the top four linebackers entering camp. Hicks was credited with 32 tackles last season and his four QB sacks is tops among all returning defenders. He has the size and speed to play any of the three LB spots in the Gator defense. Hicks talked about a lot of the issues facing the Gator defense in 2010.
On expectations for his defense:
“I’m actually really confident. You know every year somebody leaves and somebody steps up big. Jelani Jenkins is a guy we see stepping up in a major way. Once you have guys who are willing to step up it doesn’t matter who leaves.”
Will the defense look different on the field?
“I would say, kind of, sort of yeah but then again we’re the Gator defense. We’re gonna be fast and we’re gonna fly around the ball.”
It seems there are four starters for three jobs. Are there going to be times when all four of you are on the field together?
“I’m not sure right now. I guess the coaches are working on something like that. It doesn’t matter which of us you put on the field at linebacker we’re gonna make the play. That’s our goal, to make the play every time we’re on the field.”
On having to be a leader in 2010:
"Ever since my freshman year I always had somebody to look up to like Spikes and Stamper and Doe. They were older than me and I always felt like they had my back all the time. Now it’s my time to step up and play a leadership role and do the best that I can to have everybody know that I have their back.”
On the sense of urgency he is feeling this year:
“There’s always going to be a sense of urgency when it’s your senior year. It’s your last year, your last go around and you have to make the most of each moment no matter what. (If it’s a) small game, big game, championship game or a game you think you’re going to win it doesn’t matter.”
On the absence of Charlie Strong:
“It’s really different because you get used to having him all three years of college and your last year you got somebody different. It’s a change, but I feel like it’s a good change for the better. Coach Austin is a quiet guy, but he’s really a people person that you can talk to about anything.”
On which LB position he likes best:
“I believe I’m going to be multiple, but then again that’s where we’re trying to get each linebacker at where it doesn’t matter who’s on the field he can handle Mike, Will or Sam. I kind of like Sam and Will equally but I just want to be out there one way or the other.”